Constance Grady in Vox:
Elon Musk is an Ozymandias for our moment.
He’s got wealth and influence. His place as the richest man on earth fluctuates with the market, but he consistently cycles among the top three slots. He’s the CEO of two major companies and the owner of what was, up until he bought it, arguably the most influential social media network in the world. Marvel used him as the basis for Tony Stark. Since Musk first made his way into public view in the mid-2000s, he has promised to change the world. He is going to solve climate change. He is going to take humanity to Mars. He is going to use AI to unravel the true nature of the universe. He is going to save the human race.
For most of the past decade, the media and Musk’s many super fans treated Musk’s promises as something close to fait accompli. After all, Musk may not yet have taken people to Mars, but he did build reusable rockets. He reinvigorated the electric car industry. Surely, the people who congregate in Musk’s Twitter replies would suggest, he was on the cusp of doing the rest of what he says he’ll do, no matter how abrasive his personality might seem or how many times he’s already failed to deliver.
To understand exactly how this worldview works, it’s illustrative to look at a book by the English writer and actress Talulah Riley. Riley was Musk’s second and third marriages: The pair divorced in 2012, remarried in 2013, and divorced a second time in 2016. (Riley recently announced her engagement to Thomas Brodie-Sangster, the kid from Love Actually — the woman has lived a life.) Also in 2016, Riley published a romance novel titled Acts of Love.